Sunday, July 12, 2009

Steve’s Garden – Update

Steve’s tomato plants are really growing. The garden actually looks like a jungle. He says next year he’s not going to plant so many. He has several varieties and will decide at the end of the season which ones did the best.

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We had such a cool, wet spring. Compared to last year, the garden and plants in the yard are almost a month behind. We’ve only had two ripe tomatoes. But we are losing fruit every day - we’ve found that squirrels are big tomato fans. They have been climbing the fence, grabbing up tomatoes, climbing back out and eating them! They look like they have green tennis balls in their mouths! It is comical to watch, but maddening. Steve got his BB gun out to try to discourage the little varmints, but so far, it hasn’t deterred them! We’ve tried 'Shake Away', that didn’t work. Also we put out bowls of water, because I’d read that the squirrels were actually thirsty and were stealing the tomatoes for the juice. But they haven’t touched the water.

How tall do you think this plant is? Can you guess the type? It is a cherry tomato!!

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Close-up of the fruit…


We put banana peels in the holes before we planted. Wonder if that is what has made them so tall? Steve waters them every so often with compost tea, and I’m sure that has helped as well. The garden kinda reminds me of…


Happy Birthday Lil’ Firecracker

Our grandson’s fourth birthday was July 5th. His birthday party was held at the pool/community center of his maternal grandparents. It’s a beautiful place to hold a party and has every amenity you could wish for.


A friend of the family made the cake to resemble Hampton’s radio controlled truck. She did a fantastic job. Check out those Krispy Kreme wheels.


He pulled the gifts out of the bags and boxes, threw them aside and quickly went on to the next one. There were so many things, I don’t think he knew what all he got.


After the pizza, cake, and gifts, the kids went out to the pool. By then, it was starting to really cloud up. Luckily, it didn’t rain until much later in the evening.


After the party, we went to the in-laws to hang out, and our grandson got to play with the best gift of all…his new puppy, Jackson.


On the way home, two new best friends - worn out and fast asleep.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Turtle Baby

While Steve was working in the garden today, he discovered a little turtle wandering among the tomatoes. I think he’s a box turtle. I picked him up and he stuck his neck out of his shell as far as he could, flailing all four legs. He was so cute. It made me want to go get an aquarium and keep him. But I know he’d be better off living as he was intended to live.
After I took the pictures, Steve let him go at the edge of the woods behind the garage. He’ll probably be back in the garden tomorrow! The neighbors across the street had a turtle in their garden last year and he took a bite out of every cantaloupe!

Speaking of the garden, it’s been a month since we planted everything. May has been a really crummy month for growing things. It seems like all it has done is rain, and its been cloudy a lot. Most of the tomato plants developed a fungus on their leaves and we had to spray them with a fungicide. All the neighbors’ tomatoes had the same problem. But today was hot and sunny, so hopefully the tomato plants will bounce back. We found two little green tomatoes on one plant this morning. Mom’s yellow tomato plant on the patio has a nice tomato on it.
Steve planted a LOT of different varieties of tomatoes. He is going to decide what kind to plant next year depending on the success of this year’s crop.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fairy Visit


We have a precious little visitor who is going to be living with us.  This weekend I received a box from  I was the lucky winner in their giveaway and won a kit to make my own fairy garden!


Max insisted on helping me open the box.


Max and I can’t wait to remove the lid.


Inside there’s a bag of potting soil, some flagstone pieces, an arbor (the gates actually swing open and closed), a bench, a birdhouse, and… some magical fairy dust.


Sarah even added this adorable little fairy to make the garden complete.  Guess what her name is going to be – Sarah, of course!

Mom and I have already started designing our miniature garden.  I’ll be sure to post some pictures when we get it planted.


Max, Ling and Bella enjoyed the box and packing.  Taji was off napping somewhere.

If you are looking for some imaginative, creative toys or activities for your family, check out their website –

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tennessee Wedding

This past weekend we travelled to Tennessee for the wedding of my cousin’s son.  My cousin and her husband graciously put up the out-of-town family at a nice resort condo in Pigeon Forge.   It was wonderful to see so many members of my family…we rarely get together since we have spread out geographically.  Friday night after the rehearsal we got lost trying to follow a caravan of vehicles in the dark, in the rain, on I-40 in Knoxville.  Saturday morning we got up early and bought a GPS before the wedding. Those are fantastic little gadgets.  Previously, I’d privately scoffed at the idea of purchasing one – I couldn’t imagine why we would need one.  But now I know better.P1000894
After I got ready for the wedding, Steve put on his new slacks and decided they were too long.  So while he was turning up the hems and ironing them, I ran up to a convenience store and bought some duct tape.  He deftly applied the tape and he was good to go.  The duct tape lasted just fine.  He is so sweet.  When Mallory and Jonathan started to exchange their vows, he took my hand and held it.  I teared up, of course.  He later said he was thinking about our vows. P1000952a P1010062a The next morning, a bunch of us met at the Apple Barn for breakfast.  There were nine of us, with one spare gal.  We kept teasing her, asking why she hadn’t she found a man yet.  When we were leaving, the men went to retrieve the cars (in the rain) and all the women were standing under a covered porch, hugging and saying goodbye.  A couple who were leaving were trying to get through our little crowd and one of the girls turned around and told them she thought they were with us.  They smiled and continued to the parking lot.  I called out after the guy and said that he’d almost gotten himself hugged.  He turned around, grinning and said, “I heard that one of you was looking for a man”.  His wife just kept walking.  I don’t think she was amused.P1010075a Four generations – my Dad’s sister, her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

We Put Our Garden In

My husband almost killed me this weekend. I “help” him out in the yard, but he typically does the heavy work in the garden. This weekend was planting time, so I helped him plant twenty-seven tomato plants; red, green and yellow peppers; jalapenos, eggplants, and zucchini. Then I helped him put a temporary chicken wire fence around the whole thing to protect the garden from the deer and the rabbits and any other varmints that might want to help themselves to the fruits of our labor. It was almost 90 degrees out, and the humidity was pretty high as well. I still haven’t totally recovered!
April 26 015Here’s a view from the long side (which is what we see from our screened porch).
April 26 011 We also planted seven new Knock Out roses in the front under my office window.
April 26 003 I already had the evening primrose that I planted two years ago. It has spread quite a bit. I love that it looks so translucent and delicate. I’ve read that it is considered to be a noxious weed by some gardeners, but I have it confined to one area and think it looks nice.
April 26 004 I have million bells that are two years old, too (see the mound down the walk. There are two pinks and two purples.) I cover them up with pine straw in the fall and they have come back twice now. It is so nice to have some of my flowers come back so I don’t have buy all new every spring.
April 26 007 What do you think about our Japanese maple? Isn’t it gorgeous?
April 26 017 In two weeks, we’ll be putting out fresh long leaf pine straw for mulch. We have a lot of beds…it takes about one hundred bales. When we put our yard in we thought we’d be smart and built a lot of beds so we wouldn’t have to mow as much. We didn’t think about what a chore it is to spread pine straw, not to mention how much it costs!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Loss of a Pet

One of my dearest friends is going through a difficult time right now because their dog is seriously ill. There’s no way of knowing what tomorrow may bring, and they are just trying to enjoy her and love her as much as they can, every day. Losing a pet is very hard, especially when he or she is part of the family.

We had our dog, Gus, for eighteen years. I adopted him from the SPCA. When I took him to the vet to get him checked out, he guessed that he was part doxie and some kind of terrier. Now, if you have a dog of ‘unknown ancestry’ you can send his DNA in for testing and find out where he came from. But I think the vet was pretty much correct, because Gus had that terrier and doxie attitude and swagger. He would have had such a good time chasing all our cats around. He liked ‘his’ cat, Eldon, but would chase any others. He didn’t try to catch them, he just liked to chase them. He thought he was a big dog and would confront any dog that came near his yard, no matter what its size.

He was like a child to me, and when he was gone, I cried and cried. But one thing helped me through it. I wrote a poem in his honor. Thinking about him while I was writing it helped as well. I recommend it to anyone who has lost a pet. He’s been gone for five years now and I still miss him.

In Memory of Gus

Somewhere above my little dog waits;

He patiently sits at a glistening gate.

His eyes, once clouded, are shining and clear;

His ears, long deaf, prick when my voice he hears.

When he sees me, he’ll bound high and low

On legs that used to be stiff and slow.

Instead of a collar, he wears a circle of light;

He’ll welcome me Home, and all things will be right.

old 240

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Adventures in Kitty-sitting

Last week we kitty-sat our kittens’ littermate. His name is Trixie. There was a little gender confusion when they were kittens; one of our girls is named Max. Trixie, being an only child, didn’t know how to play with other cats. When our neighbor brought him in, there was much hissing, spitting and posturing among all five cats. Trixie was scared of us, and he was scared of our girls, too.

He is much larger and more muscular than our kittens. His coat is similar to Max’s, but more mackerel than the classic tabby pattern. After a few days he realized we were not a threat to him, and he wanted to play with the other kitties. Unfortunately, since he doesn’t know proper feline etiquette, he would rush at them, which would cause them to run, spurring him to chase them. When he eventually cornered them, they made the most frightening sounds possible in an attempt to dissuade him from attacking. But all he wanted to do was play. Our kitties were constantly looking over their shoulders for him; ready to flee in an instant.

from behind

He was a really good boy. The few times we had to tell him ‘no’, he would quit doing whatever it was, but he always would talk back a little. It was like he was saying, “I’ll quit, but I don’t want to.” He eventually took up with us and let us pick him up and love on him for short periods of time. But we had to be careful because he likes to nip a little, and you have to anticipate when to stop. He never did get to play with his little sisters. After he left, they were exhausted and all of them collapsed into a relieved slumber.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Not Your Mother’s Easter Bunny

We went to visit our son, daughter-in-law and grandson this past weekend. Of course, we took an Easter basket for our grandson (he’s 3 1/2). At Christmas, of all the presents we gave him, the biggest hit was a reindeer that pooped brown jelly beans. As luck would have it, I found an Easter bunny that poops jelly beans, and it even waddles along at the same time! Again, a big hit.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Little Stevie

My husband was the youngest of five children. He was always getting into trouble, so they would tie him to something when they were too busy to constantly run after him. Once, when they were moving into a new house, they tied him to a tree. A little while later, a neighbor walked up with a little naked boy in tow, and asked "Does this belong to you"? He'd stripped off his clothes and escaped!

37th Annual Flowertown Festival

This weekend was the 37th annual Flowertown Festival. More than 200 crafters participate in the juried show. It draws over 200,000 in attendance over a three-day period. This time of year finds the azaleas, redbuds, plums, spirea, and wisteria in bloom...among others. The festival takes place in the Summerville town park, which is full of gorgeous blooming plants and trees. There are also ponds and various sculptures to admire. This year just prior to the festival weekend, we got 5.5 inches of rain. The town workers did their best to mitigate the muddy mess by putting down sheets of plywood, and shoveling sand in low spots, but on Friday, the first day of the festival, we had to slog through the mud.

This year, my husband's brother and his wife were here from Rhode Island and they got to go with us.

Here are my husband and his brother. Their sister and her husband had a booth at the festival (Windjammer Scrollsawing). He's the one who made the letter "G" that I have on my front door.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Easter Decor

It’s time for the Easter and spring decorations. The arrangement I have on the table in the foyer will stay through spring. The rest of the decorations are specifically for Easter. When I went up to the attic to dig them out, I was surprised at how many decorations I already had. I’d totally forgotten about some of them. I especially love the fat little bunnies. I put Cadbury pastel eggs in the bottom of the glass candle holder on the mantel, but you can't see them very well. It seems a few got eaten before they went into candle holder. Hmm, I need to get another bag. Mom said she thinks the bunnies in the doll room are multiplying.

Monday, March 23, 2009

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Living in paradise does have its downside occasionally.  Right now we are in the midst of the spring pollen season.  When you are outside, it threatens to close up your throat…your hands feel gritty if you touch anything…the air is so thick with it, you can even smell it. 
And then the yellow haze insidiously sweeps onto your screened porch.  This is what happens after four cats trample through it.  Imagine the amount collecting on the furniture and the floor.
Now think how much of it is tracked inside.  Even without opening the windows, the pollen finds its way into the house.  Thankfully, this plagues us only a few weeks.  Then come the no-see-ums and the mosquitoes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Just How Much IS a Trillion Dollars?

When you hear all the media talking about a trillion dollars, they throw out the term casually and you don’t really think about what that really means.  A trillion is one thousand billion.  A billion is one thousand million. 

To put this into perspective, if you could spend one million dollars a day every day since Jesus was born, you still wouldn’t spend a trillion. 

I found this neat graphic online, courtesy of

The graphic depicts an average human being, and the denomination of the money is $100 bills.

A bundle of $100 bills is equivalent to $10,000 and that can easily fit in your pocket. One million dollars would fit inside a standard shopping bag while a billion dollars (stacked on standard sized pallets) would occupy a small room of your house.


With this background in mind, 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000) is 1000 times bigger than 1 billion and would therefore take up an entire football field - the man is still standing in the bottom-left corner….and notice, the pallets are double stacked!

Eye-opening, isn’t it?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Guinea Visit

I was sitting at my desk this morning and the dog next door started barking like crazy. She doesn't normally bark that much, so I went to the window to see what was the matter. Nine guineas were in our yard. They pretty much just ignored the dog. Maybe they knew about the invisible fence! I don't know who they belong to, I just hope they found their way home okay.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ready for Spring

My husband put in his first garden last year. It was pretty small and all he planted was tomatoes, assorted bell peppers and jalapenos. It did quite well. He canned dozens of jars of jalapenos and I made and froze numerous quarts of tomato sauce. Here's a picture of him last May with his first crop.

He can't wait to start planting this year. Our temperatures have been averaging in the 60's during the day, but we are still getting a frost every so often. He's already bought some seeds and little peat trays to start them in. He's ordered a portable greenhouse and it should be delivered tomorrow. He decided to make the garden bigger this year, so today he dug up the new area and got all the roots out. Next, he'll amend the soil and till it up. Look at the pile of roots he dug out!

He has a friendly rivalry brewing with the neighbor across the street. The neighbor has a lot more garden area, though, and he had a huge assortment of vegetables last year. When we put our lawn in, we didn't think about wanting a garden later and didn't leave a spot for one. We found a sunny place at the edge of the woods just big enough to squeeze in a small plot. We should have known better. Being Italian, my husband has growing tomatoes in his blood. I think I'll have to watch him closely. Next thing you know, he'll be ripping out the grass to make his garden even bigger!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Baccousa

Finding a proper place for the litter boxes has always been an issue. At our last house, the boxes were in the upstairs guest bathroom. When we began building this house, we had three cats at the time, and would no longer have a guest bathroom (we were customizing the second bath as handicapped accessible for Mom). Since we would have unused space under the stairs going up to the finished room over the garage, we decided to build a cat door in the mudroom to give them access to this space. We put a door to the area from the garage so we could get to the boxes for cleaning. Their private toilet even has a light. Such spoiled kitties. When the muralist was here, I asked her to come back and paint something over the entrance. I decided on 'baccousa', since my husband is Italian. Baccousa is an Italian-American term for the toilet. I think it originally referred to the back house (outhouse). My sister-in-law still uses this word.